Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Law & Order “Innocence” Recap & Review

All photos from NBC

Law & Order “Innocence” was an excellent episode that gave us a look into EADA Michael Cutter’s (Linus Roache) past, and some of it wasn’t pretty. It seems that Mike covered up the fact that he didn’t get his BA degree, not only lying to the New York Bar, but to the DA’s office as well. We also meet Cutter’s law profession Emily Ryan, played with just the right amount of toughness by Amy Madigan. It seems that Ryan was the person who taught Mike how to be the cold and calculating attorney that we know now. What he learns comes back to both help him AND haunt him in this case, as Ryan exposes Cutter’s fraud about his degree as a way to get back at him and win her appeal which is being lead by the Innocence Coalition. Lucky for Cutter, he learned how to play the game right back, deciding that he wasn’t going to bow to Ryan’s threats, eventually turning the tables on the defendant while at the same time acting a little crazed with anger. it was Cutter - and Linus Roache - at his best.

While everyone else seemed a backdrop to Cutter’s dilemma, we still got to see the detectives in action – their clean shaven look now screams “COPS.” Of course, this still didn’t deter a stupid criminal who noted the same thing but fell for their ruse anyway. We also find that Anita (S. Epatha Merkerson) is undergoing radiation treatments for her cancer and still has the support from her boyfriend Frank (Ernie Hudson).

But it was Cutter’s story that kept me riveted to his episode. It has always seemed that Mike has always been working to gain McCoy’s respect, and McCoy always seems to have some gnawing doubts about Cutter. With this case, and the big reveal that Cutter lied even to the DA’s office about his degree, McCoy may have some new concerns about Cutter. This may be a crossroads for Mike, who now has all of his secrets - well, at least all that we know of for now – out in the open. Maybe this will free him to be even more aggressive with his cases now that he knows he survived this latest mess. Of course, if he is worried that McCoy is just waiting for one more thing to use as an excuse to cut Cutter loose, it may make him gun shy for a while. Either way, Mike Cutter has only become a more interesting character and I can’t help wanting to know more about him. I admit when Linus Roache first came on the scene I was not sure he was the right guy for this job, but he has taken the character and turned him into someone that I find more interesting every week.

Here is the recap:
Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) arrive at the home of Cedric Stuber (Robin Lord Taylor), the main suspect in a murder of a Alan Camden, a gay man, and Stuber attempts to flee. He’s nabbed by the detectives while trying to flee out the window banging his head. The angry crowd calls him a “gay basher” as he is led out of the apartment.

At the 2-7 under questioning, Stuber denies the killing. The detectives try to rile Stuber by implying that he may also have gay tendencies, which works, and inflames Stuber. Later, the victim’s husband Jon Sorrentino (Cheyenne Jackson) identifies Stuber as killer of his partner Alan Camden.

Later, Lt. Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) is waiting with Frank (Ernie Hudson) at the hospital for a cancer treatment. Frank is being very attentive to her, and Van Buren also tried to encourage a young woman who is also waiting for her first radiation treatment.

In court and on the stand, Sorrentino testifies to seeing Stuber kill Camden, but the defense attorney tries to discredit his testimony, bringing out the fact that Camden had drugs in his system and getting Sorrentino to admit he had a few hits of pot that night.

Stuber’s mother testifies Cedric was home with that night and implies he was a good kid. When she tells EADA Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) that Cedric was watching "project designer”, a fashion design show, Cutter hammers that the show features a lot of gay people and maybe Cedric enjoys watching gay people. This line of questioning gets Cedric’s mother riled up, saying that her boy is not gay and that is disgusting, clearly showing her prejudice. Later, Cedric is found guilty.

Back in his office, Cutter tells ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) of all the people who have contacted him for interviews and appearances as a result of the trial, and DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) enters and cautions him on his celebrating. He tells Cutter that the Hudson University Innocence Coalition is filing an appeal, lead by Innocence Coalition head Emily Ryan, none other than Cutter’s former law professor and mentor. McCoy says, “Guess she’s not done schooling you.”

Later, at the Innocence Coalition, Cutter and Rubirosa talk to Ryan (Amy Madigan) and her assistant Lisa (Anna Chlumsky) and find that a “concerned citizen” by the name of Sylvia Corgan came forward with more information. Ryan won’t give Cutter specifics, just has Lisa get them Corgan’s address. Ryan tell Cutter not to take this as a personal attack, they are both interested in justice.

At the home of Sylvia Corgan, she tells Cutter and Rubirosa that she is a real estate agent and saw Jon Sorrentino check out a property with another man and they were kissing, and it was only two weeks after the murder.

Cutter and Rubirosa speak with this other man – Ted Wilson - who tells them he is a business partner with John and says he was only consoling John, and that two gay men can be affectionate, “just like you two.” He admits that now they are a couple but wanted to keep it quiet.

Back at the 2-7, Cutter and Rubirosa discuss the timing of all this with Lupo and Bernard. They also find that someone took a photo of Cedric the day he was arrested and posted it on a gay rights blog, and they decide to see if Sorrentino saw that blog picture before he was arrested which could have tainted the ID. They also want to find if he was involved with Wilson before the murder. Lupo says according to his phone records, there were a few calls to Wilson plus a series of calls to Holt, Levy & Trachtenberg – divorce lawyers.

When Lupo and Bernard question Sorretino at his office, he admits he wanted out of the marriage but did not kill his husband. Later, back in Cutter’s office, the detectives, Rubirosa, McCoy and Cutter discuss their dilemma. They find someone at Sorrentino’s office – at least someone at that IP address – visited the gay rights blog with Stuber’s picture, and McCoy is concerned that Emily Ryan will use that for the appeal.

In Supreme Court at the motion hearing, Ryan makes her argument to Judge Cormac Braden (Zach Grenier) and then says she has another witness. Rodrigo Diaz gets on the stand, and says he was Sorrentino’s and Alan’s drug dealer, and that Sorrentino once told him that he wanted out of his marriage and wanted his partner dead. Under cross from Cutter, he says he tried to get this information to the police before but got frustrated when he was put on hold. He said Lisa Kline form the Innocence Coalition found him and convinced him to testify. He also has to admit he doesn’t know if Sorrentino ever got a hit man.

Later, the judge rules that because the alternate theory of the murder was not presented, and that Cutter may have influenced the line up, he sets aside the verdict and orders a new trial. Rubirosa tells Cutter she doesn’t know whether to be outraged or humiliated, or both. Ryan tells him it was nothing personal, and let’s see if she really did learn something from her. As Ryan walks off, Rubirosa says, “That WAS personal.”

Afterwards, in McCoy’s office with Cutter, Rubirosa and Van Buren, they commiserate. Van Buren says she will get her guys back on the case. McCoy worries that Ryan may be right, and when Cutter seems unsure, McCoy tells him to forget she was his mentor and to forget she is a defense lawyer who just won a retrial for a killer.

When Bernard and Lupo break the news to Sorrentino, he admits Diaz used to be his drug dealer but that Diaz is lying about the hit man. He admits Alan had a bad meth habit and that if Diaz kept dealing to him he would go to the police. They asks for Sorrentino’s help in getting information from Diaz.

Elsewhere, at restaurant, Diaz comes in to meet with Lupo who seems undercover, with Bernard nearby. Diaz says Lupo looks straight. They talk about using Diaz’s services, and when they make a deal, Bernard arrests him. Outside, they ask him about what he said on the witness stand, and Lupo sees a card from a tequila bar with Lisa’s contact information on it, and Diaz clams up.

At Tequila Chito’s, they question someone who works there and says Diaz had been there with a woman who looks like Lisa and that the woman got into a fight with Diaz. She came up to the bar with her credit card and asked for $100 cash back and she gave Diaz the money and got a car service for Diaz.

Back at Cutter’s office, Bernard tells Cutter and Rubirosa that the car service took Diaz to a drug house, and Cutter comments that Lisa greased the wheels with Diaz with drug money. Lupo also says they can throw in Sorrentino's threat to call the cops puts Diaz credibility at zero.

At the Innocence Coalition, Cutter and Rubirosa speak with Lisa and says she only gave him care fare. Cutter wonders that now she knows all the facts if she has doubts, she says they are grasping at straws rather than admit they are wrong. Cutter says he thinks the grasping has just begun.

Outside at a snack stand, McCoy asks Cutter what is going on that Cutter subpoenaed the records of one of Ryan’s students. Cutter tells him that student paid off a witness who blew up their case. But when McCoy said the subpoena covered every student that attended Ryan’s class in the past 10 years, Cutter argues they are entitled to know if there is a pattern. McCoy thinks he has declared war on the Hudson Innocence Coalition, and Cutter asks him why protect people that undermine their work? McCoy says he is not arrogant enough to think they never make mistakes. Cutter says his doubts disappeared when they enticed a witness to come forward with cash and tequila. He tells McCoy it is easy to wax philosophical about Ryan but the egg is on his face, and don’t ask him to withdraw the subpoena.

Later, over Chinese food, Cutter and Rubirosa are discussing the case when Ryan enters, saying McCoy told her they are standing by the subpoena, and she is calling it a crusade. She says he has more hoops for him to jump through. She gets in his face and asks didn’t she teach him about blowback, saying sometimes you open up a door you think is safe and an inferno comes roaring out. She tells him to just remember this was his call. Cutter looks a little uncomfortable but when Rubirosa asks if she just threatened him, he says it was just standard defense lawyer shtick and not to worry about it.

With the judge, Cutter and Ryan argue the subpoena. Cutter argues that he is trying to determine if Ryan’s’ students were incentivized to manufacture evidence. The judge agrees with Cutter and wants to know what else is going on. He allows Cutter to have the records but not the students’ emails.

Back in his office, they go over a list of students where students got higher grades that got exonerations. McCoy argues this does not mean all of them cooked the books. Cutter argues that the pressure and her reward system fosters overzealousness. He says Ryan finds the way in, and cites an example where she knew he had nowhere to go for the holidays and she invited him to the house with her husband for holiday dinners and he would have run into bullets for her. Cutter wants a hearing to find out how far Ryan is pushing her students.

At the motion hearing, Lisa is on the stand talking about Diaz. Cutter brings out the circumstances surrounding her getting his testimony. She admits she did not mention all this stuff to Ryan, and that afterwards Ryan gave her a letter of recommendation for a federal clerkship. Ryan cross examines, Lisa says he has gotten other letters from other people and is only motivated to expose the truth.

Cutter calls Ryan to the stand, and she objects, and the judge tells her to take the stand. Ryan gets a little defensive about her work. She admits a lot of her students get overzealous but they do not suborn perjury. The judge tells her to step down, and says he is troubled by the apparent bribe to Diaz. He now finds Diaz’s testimony suspect. And he reinstates the jury’s conviction. Ryan moves to dismiss for another reason, and Cutter is quick to object. But she tells the judge that the lead prosecutors license to practice law was obtained fraudulently saying Cutter is not an attorney at all.

In McCoy’s office, Cutter admits he went to three colleges in four years and a few credits slipped through the cracks and he thought he would get is sorted out before law school. He admits he does not have his BA. He says he did the work but no one actually handed him a diploma. The oversight was perpetuated when he applied to the bar, implying he had his undergraduate degree, and also on his resume to the DA’s office. Ryan was his faculty advisor and he mentioned it to her and she told him not to worry about it, but McCoy says it puts all his convictions in question. Cutter says the judge wants to put him under oath in his chambers tomorrow and McCoy says he will be joining him.

In the judge chambers, Cutter recounts his story, also saying he checked and found a college degree was not a requirement and he believes his license to practice law is valid. Ryan asks a few questions and says he was committing a fraud, and McCoy objects, saying this did not impinge on someone’s right to a fair trial and wonders why Ryan waited so long to bring this up. The judge says he will take this under advisement and says his is disappointed in Cutter

Later, over drinks, Rubirosa and Cutter commiserate. Cutter thinks McCoy is going to fire him.
McCoy pays a visit to Ryan at the university , saying Cutter went after the Coalition because that’s what she taught him to do. She said McCoy failed to reel Cutter in, and McCoy says she should blame him instead. He argues that Mike is a fine prosecutor and does she want to destroy him, also asking if she still believes her client is innocent or is she teaching Mike another lesson? He offers a lesser plea for Stuber but she won’t make any promises.

Later, McCoy tells Cutter about his deal and Cutter is livid, saying Stuber is a hate murderer and doesn’t deserve man 1. McCoy agrees on merit, and Cutter sees that McCoy needs to make a deal to save Cutter’s ass, but he’d rather be disbarred than be a part of that. McCoy tells him he should be worried that Stuber would get retried and walks because there is enough doubt and the judge turns him over for his misfeasance. Cutter says he won’t do it but McCoy says, “Yes you will. If you have any hope of staying on here, end this debacle with a plea bargain.”

In the prison interview area Ryan enters while Cutter is already waiting and they argue about who is fighting dirty. They both push at each other. Rubirosa also arrives, along with Stuber and his attorney. Stuber says he wants out of there, and Cutter quickly moves to leave, but Ryan stops him, and tells Stuber to hear him out. But Stuber counters that Cutter is not a lawyer, and Rubirosa reminds him that she is. Cutter offers man 1, 20 years, and Stuber laughs. But as they discuss the matter, Stuber’s racism begins to come out. Cutter ups the offer to 25 and tells Ryan to go to trial if she doesn’t like it. He tells Ryan to forget about his law license, it would free hum up to testify against Stuber's hate speech and then he’ll go to the US Attorney’s office and have Stuber charged with violating the Matthew Shepard act. Cutter gets hot under the collar and yells at Stuber, reminding him that hate murders against gays is a federal offense and asks is he ready to do two back to back life sentences and to die in jail? When the defense attorney confers with Stuber, he then says Stuber will take the 20 years originally offered, but Cutter stands by 25 years or nothing. Stuber caves and takes the offer and points to Cutter, saying that guy is nuts and does she know that. Ryan says she does.

Later, as McCoy is leaving his office, Cutter tells him he has been reprimanded by the bar overseers and it goes in the law journal tomorrow. McCoy reads from the document, “But we cannot see how the flaw in Mr. Cutter’s credentials prejudiced any of his past convictions.” Cutter comments that he dodged a bullet, and McCoy asks, “Did you?” He looks at Cutter, taking off his glasses, and walks off, leaving Cutter standing there to wonder about that comment as we fade to black.

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Anonymous said...

This episode was all kinds of awesomeness. The scenes with Cutter and Connie, Cutter and Jack, Cutter and himself…well you get the idea.

Great acting by the main cast. Loved Cutter going ballistic in the end, probably more for the slur against Connie than anything else. Also loved to finally seeing Connie defending Cutter for once. And I loved Jack going to speak to Emily on Cutter’s behalf.

I even loved the random, had nothing to do with anything, scene of Anita at the cancer clinic, offering emotional support. Good stuff.

What I didn’t like, was Lupo in that hoodie.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope that One of the Powers that Be submits this episode for Mr. Roache at Emmy nomination time. What a wonderful performance. From start to finish, he was understated to outraged to as the perp said at the end--crazy moving effortlessly throughout. The last scene was an o boy moment for Cutter. Seems that Jack has finallly met someone who outJacks Jack.

Must see tv all around.


Anonymous said...

I watched this episode with a friend who has never really been into L&O and doesn't get my obsession. Now she does. Just amazing.

By the way, is it just me, or is Mike getting hotter?

Canada Girl.... said...

Yes it was a good episode but it REALLY bugged me that Cutter didn't have a BA Degree. See I work in a law firm in Canada and you can't even take the bar exam without having a BA degree so I don't know why but that really didn't sit well with me. How the heck did that pass through the cracks!! He really dodged a bullet on that one but I am thinking McCoy will be a little weird around Cutter for a while.

ALSO can I just say that the moment in the Dr's office with Van Buren and the cancer patient was very nice. Really enjoyed that scene.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon....it's not just you.

Cutter is way hot!!!


Anonymous said...

I think I have fallen in love with Linus Roache. He was fabulous in this episode. Please submit this episode for any Emmy.

The writers are also doing a great job with Law & Order this season, and they really have made Cutter into an interesting character. Linus Roache deserves more attention and I wish NBC would learn to promote him more. They need to get his face out there with more interviews and or magazine and web coverage. This guy brings a real star factor that he haven't seen in this series for a long time.

Anonymous said...

By the way, is it just me, or is Mike getting hotter?

I'm a straight guy, but the scene in Stuber's cell was kind of a turn on.

Anonymous said...

NBC only cares about Mariska Hargitay for Emmys so don't bet on anyone else getting a nod...which is sad because personally I don't think she deserves any more recognition than any other actor on any other L&O series.

Lisa R. said...

What can I say about this episode and Linus Roache, in particular? Brilliant! The acting was phenomenal. Jack was great, Cutter's mentor was evil, and the Connie and Cutter scenes were all kinds of fan-girl love!

That ending scene in the prison? WOW!
The bar scene when Mike and Connie commiserate? GREAT!
Linus Roache needs to be recognized for his excellent work.

Can't wait for next weeks episode! I wish they could all be this good :) And thanks ATLAO for the great recap and wonderful pics!

Anonymous said...

Love that picture at the top of Linus. Great choice.

The episode was fantastic. I am now an even bigger Linus fan. Kudos to the writers, they are doing a great job, They need to teach those hacks at SVU a lesson.

Nola said...


Another Promo for LOCI! About GOREN!

Shelly said...

This was another great episode by the MS team. We learned a "who'd have thunk it" backstory on a major character - I enjoyed all of Cutter's scenes. And Amy Madigan was a great guest star. As All Things has, I think, sometimes noted, the guest stars on some of the other L&O shows - mainly SVU - tend to overwhelm the show, but Amy fit in perfectly and you believed that she could have been Cutter's mentor.

Btw Tripp, I agree with you completely on Lupo's hoodie. And when the guy walked into the restaurant to meet him to buy the drugs, if his complete appearance didn't scream "hey, I'm a cop, don't do anything illegal around me," I don't know what would.

Did anyone notice McCoy's pronunciation of the word "debacle"? I'm surprised they didn't redo it. Definitely double-take time here lol...

Thanks All Things as usual for the recap. Looking forward to next week's ep too. The MS is definitely on a roll...

All Things Law and Order said...

Shelly, i heard the pronuciation with "debacle" too and I knew they wouldn't let a mistake like that in there, so I looked it up and "DEB-akl" is an accepted pronunication. But everyone I know says "de-BAKL". I never heard it Sam's way before,

Shelly said...

All Things, I didn't even think to look it up, but I guess it just shows there are several words with more than one acceptable pronunciation. I just can't believe in all the years of L&O, that Sam hasn't had to use that word before.

Btw, two more things about the show. First, I agree with the others that the scene with Anita and that younger woman was wonderful. I think it tells a lot about how Anita is dealing with her cancer, since it hasn't been that many eps ago we saw her saying she didn't know if she could make it through. I think this shows she has more confidence.

I also thought it was nice that Sam was complimentary toward Cutter when talking to Ryan at the Innocence Coalition office. It might not hurt for him to tell Cutter that too, because sometimes I think Sam is too stingy with praise. Not that Cutter always deserves it, but sometimes he does.

Anonymous said...

@Shelly, Yea the hoodie thing bugged me. I think Sisto is just too old to pull that thing off. And I would have complained about Lupo looking completely like an undercover cop, but he does it every time. I did like the jacket on Bernard though. Very Mike Logan.

One thing I also enjoyed was how Connie defended Mike to the suspect at the end. Someone pointed out on another site that she was so non judgmental in this, other then the initial questioning and calling bull to Cutter saying he wasn't trying to show up his mentor. They have done an excellent job on this ship without being too heavy handed about it.

Anonymous said...

I just can't believe in all the years of L&O, that Sam hasn't had to use that word before.

It's usually an Adam Schiff word, isn't it? I can almost hear him growling, "Nice. I can't wait to see this latest debacle hit the front page of the Ledger."

Shelly said...

LOL anonymous.... you are so right about "debacle" being an Adam Schiff word. But I was also thinking, with all the times Cutter has done something questionable, at least in Jack's eyes, you'd think Jack would have had occasion to use the word at least once. But maybe he did, and we didn't notice because he pronounced it as we're more used to hearing it??

Tripp, agreed re Bernard's jacket. I did like that too. And since Logan is still my all-time favorite L&O character, maybe they could bring back the leather coat, even if they can't bring him back... lol..

Anonymous said...

This excellent episode is just example #10 of why the L&O Franchise needs to actually treat itself like a joined franchise. We should see Jack more on CI and SVU and even a couple crossovers a season between other characters would be nice. It would make for more compelling television.

Rosemary said...

Linus was just so amazing in this ep. I really am impressed with the way he has grown into his character by leaps and bounds. They are so lucky to have him! Also a great show over all.

I noticed that they gave us a mini-cliffhanger with Jack still being annoyed with Mike, but I think they will reconcile.

Anonymous said...

Hope in the next episode, "Mike" will have to go finish up those courses he missed....

Anonymous said...

Is one's advanced degree nullified, despite passing all the courses required to earn said degree (as well as, in this "case" passing the NY bar) because one doesn't have a bachelor's degree?

All Things Law and Order said...

That's a good question. One would think that a false undergrad degree would negate any advanced degrees. But, there are cases where people can get advanced degrees without having an undergraduate degree - for example, a person may be highly experienced in a certain field that it is deemed their experience is equivalent to a undergraduate degree. What is the real problem with Cutter is that he lied about it, which in reality most companies would say is cause for immediate dismissal. I suppose that exceptions can be made for everything, and since Cutter really did claim to have completed all the courses, he just never got the diploma to confirm it, they may be able to make an exception, both in his job and for his passing the bar.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Cutter ever claimed an advanced degree; he just inferred that he had his BA when he applied for the New York bar and to the DA's office.

The reprimand letter didn't recommend any sanction as far as his law license. That's why he said he dodged a bullet. The only hurdle he has to clear is with Jack, who could presumably fire him if he was so inclined.

Jack's comment was probably a reminder to Mike that it wasn't only the bar committee who had a say in his fate, so just because they let him off didn't mean he was in the clear just yet.

Anonymous said...

Advanced degrees are discrete (look this word up) entities. That means they stand on their own, regardless of the presences or absence of an undergrad degree. People start to law school, medical school, grad school all the time when worthy students are juniors in superior universities.

I know because I did it. Also, since my name is Deb, I am esp sensitive to words containing those 3 letters, so I laughed out loud when Jack pronounced it that way. I knew it was correct, I just hadn't heard it on LL&O before.

Finally, Mike didn't "infer" that he had a degree; in this context, the proper word would have been "implied." Actually, he did neither, he let it slide, or in some cases asserted that he did. Other people inferred that he had it. Dr. Debra Michelle Stewart!

Anonymous said...

When did McCoy become such a curmudgeon? Everything that Cutter is doing or asking to do, McCoy would have been doing years ago. Now that he has become the DA, his character has become down right nasty and it seems very out of character for the McCoy that has been created up until now.